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All about Helvellyn!

Helvellyn is the third highest peak in England after Scafell and is the highest peak on the north-south ridge between Thirlmere valley to the west and Patterdale to the East.

This ridge continues north over Helvellyn Lower Man, White Side, Raise, Stybarrow Dodd, Great Dodd and Clough Head and south to Nethermost Pike and Dollywagen Pike.

The summit of Helvellyn takes the form of a broad plateau about 500metres long. The highest point is marked by a cairn and a cross-shaped dry stone shelter; to the north is an Ordnance Survey trig point, a little lower than the summit at 949m (3,114ft).

The eastern side of the fell is the most dramatic terrain:

Two sharp aretes lead off the summit, Striding Edge and Swirral Edge, either side of Red Tarn. The knife-edged Striding Edge provides one of the best-known scrambles in Lakeland, while the Swirral Edge ridge leads to the conical summit of Catsycam.

Helvellyn is strongly associated with the poet William Wordsworth, who used to climb the mountain regularly and also wrote about the mountain several times.

In particular he commemorated the death of Charles Gough, a tourist in the Lake District who set out to cross Striding Edge to reach the peak of Helvellyn. He perished there with his dog, who stood at his side for three months before his corpse was found. A plaque commemorating this event can be found close to the peak.

The flat summit also made the first British mountain-top landing of a plane possible, when John Leeming and Bert Hinkler successfully landed and took off again in 1926.


The route from Patterdale is the longer, but far more dramatic way, taking the knife-edged Striding Edge via hole-in-the-wall up onto the summit, which provides one of the best-known scrambles in Lakeland. After resting on the top, we then take the slightly less steep Swirral Edge ridge down to the conical summit of Catsyca, and then return to Patterdale.

From Thirlmere, we strike up and across the fellside, with incredible views of Thirlmere and the surrounding valley, right up to the northern most fells of Cumbria.